10/31/2010 | Share this article:By Thor's Hammer ~
Image by Bashed via Flickr
“Imagine that all of your friends and family are on a rushing train. Now imagine that this train will inevitably crash because the bridge is out. Everyone that is still on the train when it crashes will die. Let’s pretend your loved ones do not know that they are in danger so if you want them to live you will need to convince them to get off at the next stop.
“In the same way, all of us are rushing inevitably towards death. If anyone dies without being saved, they will go to hell for all of eternity. If you haven’t accepted Christ accept him now. If you know someone who isn’t a Christian be bold and witness to them as soon as possible so that they do not perish. Let me tell you what hell is like… ”
That is a condensed version of the most memorable sermon I have heard in the 16 years I was a Christian. At the time, I was a camp counselor at a Christian camp in southern Pennsylvania and we were listening to the daily sermon. When the speaker begins to vividly describe hell in a low booming voice, many of the kids tense up in fear. To be honest, I was even scared for my unsaved friends!
Put yourself in the train situation: What would you do to get your friends and family off of the train? I came to the conclusion that I would do anything. If I had to beg and plead with them over the phone I would do that. If I had to lie to them saying there was a bomb on board I would do that. I would even go as far as to say that I would hijack the train with a loaded weapon and force everyone off if that is what it would take. My family may not like my methods at the time, but they would thank me later for saving their lives.
Now pretend for you were still a Christian who really believed that your unbelieving friends and family are going to hell if they do not convert. What would you do? I think if you really loved them, the logical conclusion is anything. They may not like your methods at the time, but they will thank you when they get to heaven.
While honesty is important, most people would agree that there are situations where lying is the “right” thing to do. In a recent post titled “Worst Call Ever,” the author reported that she lied to a woman to try to convince her to get out of an abusive marriage. I commend her for it because the woman’s safety was more important than telling the truth.
Now pretend for you were still a Christian who really believed that your unbelieving friends and family are going to hell if they do not convert. What would you do? I think if you really loved them, the logical conclusion is anything. They may not like your methods at the time, but they will thank you when they get to heaven. Some think that protecting their religion is more important than telling the truth. In 2008, exMormon Ken Clark wrote an article titled, “Lying for the Lord” where he discussed his experiences lying to protect the Mormon Church. This article can be can read in its entirety on MormonThink.com:
“Sometimes I caught myself revealing less than the whole truth, or embellishing in order to defend the church. I noticed that other members often did the same thing. I gave myself permission to be slightly dishonest because I was defending God's one true church; or so I reasoned.”
In all fairness, the Mormon Church appears to be trying to distance themselves from this idea (Google “Gospel Teachings About Lying” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks) in the same way they have tried to distance themselves from polygamy and racism. However, an honest Mormon cannot deny that “Lying for the Lord” has played a significant role in their faith’s history.
Why stop at lying when someone’s soul is at stake? Using this logic, I think forced conversions could be ironically rationalized as a caring act. Why stop at lying if my religion is the only true religion and humanity’s only hope? Using this logic, the protection of a religion can justify violence and holy wars.
If God is the source of all morality as most Christians assert, then perhaps God has the ability and right to break moral laws in the same way he has the ability and right to break physical laws with miracles. If God can work through his chosen people to perform miracles, perhaps he can also work through them to break moral laws. Anyone familiar with the Old Testament knows that God sometimes commanded the Israelites to kill. If God commanded humans to kill then, why wouldn’t he command humans to kill now? The sad reality is some still answer the call to kill in God’s name.
Granted, some believers assert that lying and violence are never OK and some religious ideas encourage individuals to do nice things. However, the chilling reality is that some religious ideas encourage well-meaning people to do heinous things. While I disagreed with his sermon, I think the fire-and-brimstone speaker was a nice guy after being around him at camp. I think he genuinely believed that “putting the fear of God” in these kids was the right thing to do. “If eliciting psychological pain is what it takes to save kids from eternal damnation so be it.” In his mind, the ends justified the means.
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